Challenges in cloud technology-2023


Clouds offer companies great advantages. They allow them to order resources or abandon them much faster than in the case of hardware; to be much more flexible in budget planning, to increase or decrease the cost of IT services. If users have problems with clouds, it is most often for one of the common reasons, as Ruslan Raikevich, IT Director of ActiveCloud, tells us.

The cloud is most effective when the goals of moving to it are clearly defined

The cloud beckons many people, but not everyone clearly understands why they need it. Sometimes a client turns to cloud technologies only because it is a noticeable trend, because their colleagues in the market have already done so. Such a customer starts by moving "anything and everything" to the cloud. For example, a few servers that are responsible for a not-so-important service. Such a project is unlikely to quickly evaluate all the advantages of clouds - how convenient, interesting, and useful it is for translating CAPEX into OPEX.

The transition to the cloud should be pre-planned and clearly verified. As a rule, frontend services that interact with the client via the Internet are moved to the cloud. Backend services can either remain with the customer or be in the same clouds, but hidden from the Internet.

Even more careful planning is required to move all resources to the cloud entirely. One such successful project began with the client moving a small portion of its capacity to the cloud first, integrating resources in the cloud and in its own data center. Then, as the hardware was decommissioned, all services were migrated to the cloud one by one. Now this company has a convenient flexible cloud infrastructure: when big sales come, the client increases consumption and notifies the provider. When the hot season passes, consumption decreases.

One cloud is good and two is better, but it's more complex

As secure as clouds are, I would caution those planning a business-critical data migration to avoid using just one cloud service. As a general rule, they are all extremely secure, but if a company has the option to contract with multiple cloud providers - it should be utilized. Synchronizing data between different cloud providers is more complex, but in terms of security and fault tolerance, such a distributed infrastructure greatly benefits in terms of aggregate fault tolerance.

It is possible to be hosted by one provider, but in different clouds. There was a case: there was a fire in the data center where a large number of our customers are located. The data center staff heroically fought the fire, and it did not cause any damage. But this example shows that no one is insured against force majeure. That's why we try to distribute customer data to different data centers We have, for example, three clouds in different data centers.

Protecting against cyberattacks is not the ISP's task, but the customer's

Everyone knows that loss of information can lead to loss of business. Including the loss of data that lies in the company's cloud service. But not everyone takes into account that when moving to the cloud, a company does not get rid of the need to take care of the security of its data on its own. Cloud providers by default provide IaaS infrastructure "as is" - that is, additional information security services the client must implement independently or order additionally.

If a company is large and has many Internet services, it most likely has a security officer on staff who monitors all potential threats. Other companies may not have such staffers, especially small businesses. Some companies invite a system administrator once or twice a year to customize the corporate infrastructure, but that's not enough.

Updates need to be done regularly. There should be clear regulations on this matter. Security patches must be installed as soon as they are released. Most virus attacks and infections affect systems that have not been updated in a timely manner in accordance with security policies. Robo-bot networks methodically scour and attack all IP addresses, and without updates, the system quickly becomes vulnerable to them. Cases when hackers purposefully try to break into a particular company are much rarer, but even in this case, vulnerabilities "closed" by patches make their task much more difficult.

The second pledge of security is the availability of backups. There is even a saying among administrators: "backups are either not done or already done". The third is encryption. If a company has critical data, anything that can get outside the client cloud should be encrypted. The fourth thing to do is to organize multi-factor authentication.

It's important to realize: the main aspect of cybersecurity is people. If you don't have a specialist on your staff who does all of the above, you can find one from an organization that specializes in security. You can also seek these services from the cloud provider itself, but this will be under a separate contract for such services.

Supporting cloud services requires skill

Cloud technology doesn't come to make life harder for administrators or IT staff, but rather to make it easier. So they don't have to move heavy servers and crimp wires, for example, but rather scale infrastructure remotely and quickly with a few mouse clicks. But the infrastructure requirements for cloud technologies are just as high as they are for hardware. As these technologies evolve, the competencies of those who support them must also grow.

For example, a critical issue for many organizations is integrating cloud technologies with existing systems. Who should provide this process? Again, the default is the customer, and you need to be prepared for that.

Of course, providers can do everything. But this is an additional cost to the user. It is up to the client's management to decide whether to enter into a support agreement with the provider or use their own IT staff. The main thing is not to expect that everything will work by itself in the cloud.

Uncontrolled consumption of cloud services leads to unnecessary waste

The resource savings of rational use of clouds are obvious. But the problem of properly organizing control over what resources are used, for what purpose and in what volume does exist.

There are examples when a company buys a cloud data center, gets the possibility of unlimited ordering of virtual resources and then does not monitor by whom and for what purpose the capacities are ordered and how they are used. It happens that customers simply forget to control the services they consume. The accounting department gets used to paying a certain amount to the provider. This is the wrong approach.

The purchase of virtual equipment must be coordinated. For example, the CFO once a week receives a justification from the company's employees as to how much additional resources are needed in the coming week and in connection with what. Or, on the contrary, what part of the cloud can be abandoned without damaging the business.

It is prudent to set budgetary limits. Providers offer the possibility of automatic notifications - how many services have been consumed, how much money has been taken from the client's balance. This should be used.

Only some employees should have the right to increase cloud resources. Providers can create several accounts and prescribe different roles. Of course, all users should be trained to work in the cloud.

Cloud technology is like water: water used to be carried in buckets, but then water pipes appeared. It's convenient, and now you can have all the water you want. But if you waste the resource unwisely, your utility bills will be unnecessarily high. The flexibility offered by cloud services is not a problem, but a solution to the problem, if you "curb" it for the benefit of the company and refuse to overconsume.

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